Reply: The Evolution of Photography and Three-Dimensional Imaging in Plastic Surgery
First and foremost, we commend the application of three-dimensional imaging technology to improve clinical practice. For years, three-dimensional imaging has primarily been used for patient consultations, as a means of demonstrating potential surgical results to prospective patients. In this regard, its role has largely been a marketing tool to help convert patients. However, it is our belief that the role of three-dimensional imaging in plastic surgery extends well beyond marketing and ultimately will be most valuable as a clinical tool. This was our intention during our early studies with three-dimensional photography and breast surgery when Drs. Nolan Karp, Mihye Choi, and others in our group coined the term “mammometrics.” The concept of mammometrics, which was derived from the concept of cephalometrics, aimed to provide objective three-dimensional measurements that could be used to plan and assess cases of aesthetic and reconstructive breast surgery. Numerous other groups have since studied the potential clinical benefits of three-dimensional scanning technology in plastic surgery, and your comments further validate these efforts.
One critical point that the authors raise is the importance of surgeons being able to integrate this into practice with relative ease. Previously, many of these modalities were largely cost prohibitive, thus limiting widespread adoption. However, the structure three-dimensional scanner that you describe is appealing given its low cost and handheld nature. In addition, many other similar products are currently on the market, including personal phones that are soon going to be equipped with three-dimensional scanners. Computer software is also becoming increasingly user-friendly and relatively inexpensive, or even open-sourced, such as MeshLab, which the authors describe. We agree that adoption of this technology will only continue to grow in the coming years, and predict that this will become standard practice for photographic assessment of our plastic surgery patients.